You see them on TV. You see them at fitness conferences. You see them training celebrities. “They” are fitness professionals who have become fitness celebrities. They are experts who have used their skills to become the movers and shakers of our industry, and they could be you! But how
did they do it?

You Are a Brand

When you strive for celebrity status, you need to realize that you are a brand. Identify your values and philosophies, and live by them. Any product you choose to endorse, any company you choose to work with, can have a significant impact on how you are recognized as a brand.
Just because you get an offer doesn’t mean you should take it. You need to believe in the product and company, and you must feel that their values and goals are in alignment with yours. I knew an up-and-coming fitness professional who chose to be a spokesperson for an infomercial ab
contraption. When that company went under amid accusations of fraud, the
trainer’s career prospects and reputation went down right along with the firm. Following are 10 tips to help you on your drive to success.

1. Earn Proper Credentials. You need
to have a foundation, and the education,
to back up your persona. That doesn’t
mean you must have degrees or multiple
certifications. But it does mean you need
to know your stuff. Master your niche.
For many, experience beyond the fitness
industry can help. Jay Blahnik of Laguna
Beach, California, president of his eponymous
fitness consulting business and a
former IDEA Fitness Instructor of the
Year, got his bachelor’s degree in business
and marketing. He feels that as a consultant
he has benefited from his business
training on many occasions when working
with major players like Nike.

2. Get Out and About. One of the best
ways to turn yourself into a “star” is to
present at conferences. Tamilee Webb, MA, who lives in Rancho Santa Fe,
California, has worldwide recognition as
a fitness specialist. She and Blahnik both
got their starts teaching at IDEA fitness conferences.
It was at IDEA fitness events that Nike
“discovered” Blahnik and that Webb received
invitations to present around the
world. Another way is to start writing.
Come up with innovative fitness topics,
strategies, workouts or analyses and then
send query letters with your proposed
topics to magazines, newspapers and
websites, letting them know that you’d
like to write for them. Start small with
community papers or newsletters.

3. Be Persistent. I’ve known Jorge
Cruise for a long time. I’ve never
known a harder worker or anyone so
focused on getting his big break. He
was always confident that it would happen.
Based in San Diego, Cruise positioned
himself as a fitness expert in his
hometown by approaching local media.
He also showcased his services by doing
a lot of work without compensation.
In fact, his volunteer work is what
gave him his big break. Oprah featured
Cruise on her show as part of her Angel
Network because he was offering online
training at no cost to people all
over the country. He was “discovered”
on the show, got an agent and is now a
New York Times best-selling health and
fitness author, in demand as both a
spokesperson and a consultant.

4. Network. It’s all in who you know, so
get out and meet people. Set the stage at
the beginning of your career and build
great relationships. It may be a client in
your class today who years from now will
introduce you to an amazing contact. Your
biggest cheerleader may one day give you
your big break. Webb worked for several
years at the Golden Door® spa. A client
whom she met there introduced her to an
agent. That agent championed her cause
and got her onboard with Workman
Publishing. Her publisher took her to New
York, and her best-selling book, The Rubberband Workout, was born. That book, which has since been printed in five languages, launched her carreer as a fitness celebrity. Then another contact got her hooked up to do the Buns of Steel workout
videos. And the rest is history.

5. Be an Attention-Seeker. Advocate for
yourself. Promote yourself. Make yourself
sound like the person you know you really
are. You don’t need an agent to get some
exposure. Become familiar with press releases,
and build relationships with editors
and local TV news producers. Any time
you come up with a creative workout or
support a charity, ask for coverage. Let the
media know that you are newsworthy. You
won’t always get coverage, but the times
that you do will build your brand and increase
awareness about you and your talents.
And media exposure is free!

6. Speak Up. Once you’ve jumped into
the spotlight, you must be prepared to
communicate your message eloquently.
Public speaking is more fearful than
death for some people, but not for you.
It’s essential that you become great at
speaking to a group. You need to be able
to communicate on camera, onstage and
to the public. Start by teaching seminars
at your club. Then expand to your community.
Consider joining a group such
as Toastmasters to refine your public speaking
skills. Once you are ready, present
to your colleagues at an IDEA
convention—they are a receptive audience
and will respond well to a fresh message
and style.

7. Get a Website. You might not need
this right away, but as you build your
brand, it is important to have your own
website. It should publicize your workshops
and include articles you’ve written,
a biography and online press information.
Some examples of celebrity websites
are listed under “Resources,” below.

8. Be a Role Model. Let’s face it: we
work in an industry where physical appearance
matters. It’s hard to become a
famous fitness professional if you are
a flabby fitness professional. Make sure
your body is a model for your target
clientele. If you are trying to become the
fitness trainer to real women, then being
an overgrown bodybuilder will not convey
the appropriate “look.” Fit, healthy
and realistic is almost always a good
match. You need to live it by being the
fittest you can be. People will want to
know that you can walk your talk.

9. Inspire Others! According to
Blahnik, too many people focus on the actual
exercise when what they most need is
motivation. To be great in our industry,
you need to be inspirational. The success
of workouts depends largely on clients
showing up and believing in their ability
to change. They probably already know
what to do. Now you need them to want
to do it!

10. Be Patient. Rarely will someone receive
a big break without first paying some
dues. That can happen through hands-on
experience in the gym, volunteering in the
community, teaching at conferences or being
willing to travel. Whichever it is, making
it big usually takes being in the right
place at the right time—and knowing the
right people. Your chances are greatly increased
with a little time in the industry.
Be patient and work hard—time passes
faster than you would expect!

Responsibility
If you become famous, your level of responsibility
increases. Your voice is heard
by thousands of people, and your reach
becomes much greater than when you
train one-on-one in the gym. You have a
responsibility to stay current and safe. But
beyond that, you have the potential to be
a role model. Use your fame to benefit
charities, to create awareness on issues
you care about and to help those who
would not normally be able to benefit
from your expertise.

The reality is that you need to love
what you do. You need to be fired up,
whether you are with a client in the gym
or presenting at a major conference.
That fire will fuel you at any level of
your career. Dedication and hard work
will be instrumental to your success.
Becoming a “name” in your field is rewarding.
You make more money, you get
recognition from your peers, and you
can work with the clients you most love.
Best of all, you have a great opportunity
to make a difference.

SIDEBAR: Steps Along the Way

This information can smooth the
way a little and help you gain more
exposure:

Apply to Present at an IDEA
Convention or Conference.
Go to
www.ideafit.com, select Events
and click on the Presenter
Application link.

Write a Query Letter for an
Article You’d Like to Submit.
A
query letter is a brief written presentation
to an agent or an editor, designed
to pitch both the writer and
the article or book idea. Every publication
has different requirements for
word length and topic style, so do
some research before submitting
your query. If you are interested in
writing for one of IDEA’s publications,
go to www.ideafit.com, click on IDEA
Publications and then click through
to Writers’ Guidelines.

Craft a Press Release. A press
release is a public relations announcement
issued to the news media
and other targeted organizations
for the purpose of letting the public
know about fitness events or information
that will be of interest to them. Press
releases follow a specific style,
which you should follow in order to
appear professional.

Plan and Design Your Website. First, get your domain name and Web
host. Some hosts have packages included
to help you design your own
site. For a professional look, outsourcing
is a good way to go if you’re
not that familiar with website design.
Keep it simple and show your design
consultant other sites that you like.

Lisa Druxman, MA, is the founder of Stroller
Strides®, the country’s largest fitness franchise
for new moms and a nationally recognized
presenter and writer. Her weight
management program, L.E.A.N. Mommy, is
the focus of her recently released book, Lean
Mommy (Center Street 2007). Contact her at
[email protected]

Resources
For some ideas to get you started on designing your own website, here are a few examples of celebrity sites:
www.davidkirsch.com
www.deniseaustin.com
www.gunnarpeterson.com
www.jayblahnik.com
www.jorgecruise.com
www.kathysmith.com
www.webbworkout.com